9 Aretha Franklin performances that brought down the house

RIP to the Queen of Soul

By Jack Roskopp - Graham Media Group
Pool via CNN

Aretha Franklin peforms "My Country 'Tis of Thee" during the inaugural ceremonies in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20, 2009.

Aretha Franklin, the undisputed Queen of Soul, died Thursday morning at the age of 76.

The legendary Detroit singer's career lasted decade after decade thanks to her incredible voice, which broke barriers when she first came on the scene in the '60s. Hits like "Respect," "Think" and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" have gone on to inspire hundreds of other singers and artists who idolize and look up to the Queen of Soul. She was more than just an amazing vocalist, she was a musical genius. 

Part of what made Franklin so extraordinary was her live performances. Franklin commanded the stage every time she stepped foot on it. It didn't matter if she was performing for a live TV audience or President Barack Obama, Franklin put her heart and soul into every performance she did.  

Check out some of Franklin's most iconic performances below. 

"I Say A Little Prayer" in 1970 

This is Franklin at her best. A classic and simple performance that just shows how clear and special her voice was. 

"Something He Can Feel" in 1976 performing at the "Midnight Special"

Can we just take a moment and admire Franklin's outfit for just a second? "The Midnight Special" always guaranteed legendary performances, but Franklin's performance to "Something He Can Feel" is just beyond. 

"Chain of Fools" in 1968

For a lot of people, this was one of their first introductions to Franklin with her hit "Chain of Fools." This performance paved the way for her becoming the Queen of Soul. 

"Think" with the Blues Brothers in the 1980 "Blue Brothers" film

How can you not love this iconic scene from "The Blue Brothers?" Franklin plays a fed-up wife to one of the members of the Blues Brothers' band, and unleashes a fiery rendition of "Think" that gets everyone in the diner moving and grooving. You can't watch the scene without grinning from ear to ear. 

"Chain of Fools" with Mariah Carey for "VH1 Divas Live"

During the '90s, it was a pretty big deal for rising star Mariah Carey to perform with Franklin. The "Divas Live" specials were so much fun becuase we got one in a lifetime performances like this one. 

"(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" with Carole King, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, Gloria Estefan and Shania Twain at "VH1 Divas Live"

Speaking of iconic performances at "Divas Live," how about this one? This group of legendary divas traded verses on the Carole King-penned track, which resulted in Franklin, Carey and Celine Dion belting over one another that made the audience go absolutely bonkers. 

"My Country, 'Tis Of Thee" at President Obama's inauguration in 2009

What a humbling experience is must have been for Franklin to sing at the inauguration of the first African-American president of the United States. Franklin's father was a civic rights leader in Detroit, so this moment was pretty special. 

"Amazing Grace" at the White House in 2014

Another incredible performance of an incredible song in an incredible building. Not every vocalist gets asked to perform at the White House. 

"(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" for Carole King at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2015. 

When Carole King received a Kennedy Center Honor, Franklin surprised everyone by performing "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman)" and stole the show. At one point, Franklin drops her fur coat to the floor like a true legend, King is beside herself and President Obama even shed a tear. That is the power of Aretha Franklin. 

Graham Media Group 2018